One of the toughest lessons for a first-time manager to learn
In the end, you can be admired
— Jason ✨BeKind✨ Lemkin #ДобісаПутіна (@jasonlk) April 6, 2022
It’s not what you’d think.
- A power trip. Well, it can be a power trip in some sense I guess, but not if you are doing it right. Oh, you are CEO of a 4-person startup? The glory! 🙂
- More fun than a non-CEO role. It’s much, much more stressful, however. The buck truly stops with you.
- More rewarding than working for a great boss. Not necessarily. Working for a great boss can be just as rewarding, without quite as much stress.
- More lucrative than other options. Being a COO or other #2 can, risk-adjusted, be a better deal. You still get a lot of equity and don’t have to take the risk of getting something off the ground.
But the benefits are unique and include:
- You get to implement your vision, at least the % you can with your team. You never really get to build exactly what you want (unless you write all the code yourself). But defining and executing the vision is all-consuming and intellectually challenging.
- You are never bored. All other roles, you will be bored sometimes. But as CEO, your mind will always be working.
- You get to pick your team. Recruiting is tough, but the benefit is you get to truly pick who you work with.
- You get to meet great people. Other great CEOs, founders, VCs, executives, and more.
- You have purpose. Most founders, in fact, get a bit lost once they sell their startups, or move on as CEO. Not all. But in my experience, maybe most.
- Maximum creativity. Again, you don’t really get to do exactly what you want. But being a CEO is a maximum opportunity to be creative in a business and product sense.
It’s not that glamorous, usually.
But it is unique.
(note: an updated SaaStr Classic answer)